Today, after the downing of a Russian jet by a NATO country – Turkey – and the execution of one of the pilots by Syrian Turkomen, news has emerged that Turkey has all but closed its borders to Syrian asylum seekers and is summarily pushing back Syrians as they try to cross. This news is courtesy of a Human Rights Watch report, just published. Syrian refugees fleeing the war zones described Turkish border guards intercepting them at or near the border, in some cases beating them, and pushing them and dozens of others back into Syria or detaining and then summarily expelling them along with hundreds of others.
During the second half of October, Human Rights Watch interviewed 51 Syrians in Turkey who had fled airstrikes and other violence in Syria. All said it was common knowledge among Syrians that they could only enter Turkey using smugglers. They described men, women, and terrified children trying to clamber at smuggler crossings across steep terrain at night for many hours surrounded by gunfire.
“Turkey’s border closure is forcing pregnant women, children, the elderly, the sick, and the injured to run the gantlet of Turkish border officials to escape the horrors of Syria’s war,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Turkey has generously hosted Syrians and is entitled to closely control its borders for security reasons, but it should not be forcing asylum seekers back to a war zone.
HRW recalled that Turkey closed its last two official border-crossing points to almost all Syrians in early March, only allowing some people with urgent medical needs to cross. Syrians have continued to reach Turkey through smuggling routes.
Almost all of those interviewed by HRW said it was common knowledge in their home areas that it was the best chance they had of crossing into Turkey because the hilly terrain makes it harder for the Turkish authorities to detect them than in the flat plain border areas further north and east.
They said that hundreds – and on some days, thousands – of Syrians were amassed in the area, waiting to cross by night. Many said they had to wait for up to a week before smugglers told them it was safe to try.
“The sheer exhaustion and desperation Syrian families go through after fleeing for their lives and literally scrambling their way to safety through the night across the Turkish border is written all over their faces,” Simpson said. “Turkey should not be putting people escaping war through such hardship.”
More evidence of Turkey supporting ISIS:
Rojava’s TEV-DEM (Movement For A Democratic Society) Executive Committee member Ferhad Dêrik stated that they have documents proving a cooperation between the Turkish state and ISIS gangs.
Speaking to ANHA (Hawar News Agency), TEV-DEM Executive Committee member Ferhad Dêrik made significant evaluations regarding the Turkish state’s approach hostile to Rojava and the support it provides to gang groups which have changed into military attacks since 24 October.
TEV-DEM executive pointed out that the Turkish state has been involved in every attack that has targeted West Kurdistan territory from Dêrik to Efrîn since the beginning of the Rojava revolution.
Ferhad Dêrik noted that the people of Rojava now expect a retaliation to the Turkish army’s recently increased provocative attacks against their land, adding; “On the excuse of such attacks, Turkey aims to occupy the Rojava land.”
According to theTEV-DEM executive, it was a kind of death for the Turkish state and AKP government whose plans all failed when Girê Spî was cleared of ISIS gangs by YPG and Burkan Al-Fırat forces on 15 June.
Dêrik pointed out that they have documents proving the Turkish state’s support to ISIS and the cooperation between the two. He said these documents reveal the facts that Turkey opened all its border crossings for ISIS members; that it provided arms, ammunition and logistic support to them; that gang members were taken to Turkey for treatment; and that it bought oil from the gangs.
“The Turkish state should eventually accept the fact all the peoples of Syria and international powers consider YPG to be the major force fighting ISIS and terrorist forces”, said Ferhat Dêrik, noting that the Turkish army’s currently ongoing attacks against YPG positions is also an evidence to the Turkish state’s support and protection of the gangs.
Urging the Turkish state to give an end to its hostile approach and practices against YPG, Dêrik also put emphasis on the essentiality of the AKP government’s ending its support to the gang groups.
TEV DEM Executive Committee member Ferhad Dêrik also called upon all the forces within the international anti-ISIS coalition, France in the first place, to put more pressure on Turkey in order for it to stop supporting gang groups and abandon the hostile policy against Rojava.
Meanwhile, here is an update from the frontline…
- The curfew and onslaught by Turkish state forces in Nusaybin district of Mardin continues in its tenth day.
- Newroz, Fırat, Abdülkadirpaşa and Yenişehir neighborhoods have witnessed heavy clashes between state forces and local people carrying out self-defense throughout the night.
- According to initial reports, one civilian has been wounded as a result of the offensive that intensifies mainly in Newroz neighborhood, where local people are strongly resisting the attacks conducted from the areas of Şirin Street, Çağ Çağ Street, Eski Hastane (Old Hospital) and Şehitler Köprüsü (Bridge of Martyrs).
- The state forces are now being reinforced by more armored vehicles and military units as preparations are underway for an expansive assault on Newroz, Fırat, Yenişehir and Abdülkadirpaşa neighborhoods.
- Electricity and all means of communication remain hindered in the district.
- People’s Defense Forces Press Office (HPG-BIM) reported ongoing attacks by the Turkish army against guerrilla-held Medya Defense Zones, and operations in the countryside of Bitlis and Amed provinces in North Kurdistan.
HPG Press Office stated that the Turkish military started an operation in Martyr Mizgin area of Bitlis province in the evening hours yesterday.
While 2 Cobra helicopters shelled Korcan mountainside between 19.00 – 20.00, troops entered the terrain and conducted raids in the area extending from Hêrvıt to Korcan bridge, as well as in the region of Hill Martyr Bawer, Sırtê Sergermavê, Simek and Sasona villages.
While Sikorsky helicopters and troops retreated to Hêrvıt guard post at 03:00 last night, some covered units remain in the area of the operation which is also participated by guards from the villages of Hêrvıt, Kurtik and Xomaş.
Regarding the military operation in Amed, HPG-BIM said Turkish troops have been deployed on hills surrounding the villages of Paşê Çiya, Warşin, Hombat, Çemê Elik, Speynik and Goma Bektaş in Amed’s Lice district at 03:00 last night.
HPG-BIM further reported ongoing howitzer and mortar attacks by the Turkish army against Martyr Serxwebun and Apê Musa areas in Lice. In addition, troops at Bılbılok and Korxê outposts have shelled the Marty Harun Cemetery and its surroundings.
BOMBARDMENTS AGAINST MEDYA DEFENSE ZONES CONTINUE
There are also reports of airstrikes carried out by Turkish military against guerrilla-held Medya Defense Zones since yesterday afternoon. Accordingly, airstrikes by Turkish jets targeted:
- Hill Martyr Hiva, Lewcê village, Karox and Dola Batê areas and surroundings of the Sılê village between 00.00 – 03.30 today
- Lelikan terrain of Xakurkê area between 23.30 – 00.00 yesterday,
- Dola Martyr Rahime, Şaxê Nêriya, Dola Satê areas of Avashin region between 00.00 – 02.30 today,
- Kinyaniş and Hill Havanê hamlets in Ertuş area of Zap region at 02:00 today.
- On the other hand, Oremar outpost at Avashin border shelled Martyr Gafur area between 00.00 – 04.30 today.
- Bilican outpost at Zap border shelled surrounding areas between 00.00 – 01.00 and 02.30 – 03.30 today.
- Eriş outpost at Zap border shelled Dola Şifreza area between 17.00 – 18.00 yesterday.
- Hill Yekmal outpost at Heftanin border shelled Bektorya area between 12.00 – 16.00 yesterday.
HPG also reported an intense activity of Turkish jets over:
- Garê area between 00.00 – 02.00 today,
- Metina area between 00.00 – 03.00 today,
- Qandil and Avashin regions between 11.30 – 01.30.
PG (People’s Defense Forces) Press Office has released a statement reporting ongoing attacks by the Turkish military against guerrilla areas.
The statement by HPG recalled that the Turkish army had started an operation in Apê Musa terrain and the triangle area between Amed’s Lice-Hani districts and Bingöl’s Genç district at 02:00 on 21 November. The operation was participated by thousands of soldiers who were deployed across the operation zone between Hani and Lice district, which was later extended to the areas of Taşlıka Mezin, Taşlıka Piçuk, Keçi Noktası, Ziyareta Mezin, Ziyareta Piçuk, Qliboğa, Paşê Çiya, Kambaz, Gorton, Çiyayê Kelê, Qılêdar, Markê, Xweyli, Çemê Elık, Orta Alan, Gezan. The same day, Turkish troops attacked and completely demolished the ‘Martyr Harun Cemetery’ in Speynî village of Lice district. Soldiers joining the operation also raided the villages of Speynî and Xiraba where they conducted searches in houses. The operation was retreated on 22 November but covered units remain positioned in the area.
Regarding the ongoing Turkish bombardments against guerrilla-held Medya Defense Zones in South Kurdistan territory, HPG provided the following detailed information:
- Hill Yekmal and Hill Sinek guard posts at the border to Heftanin shelled Bektorya area between 14.00 – 17.00 yesterday.
- Turkish troops deployed around Martyr Kendal area shelled Hill Martyr Rênas between 11.00 – 12.00 today.
- Bilican Brigade at the border to Zap shelled Martyr Kahraman area and Ertuş village between 16.00 – 18.00 yesterday.
- Hill Sor guard post at the border to Metina shelled Martyr Şoreş, Martyr Mazlum and Hakkari hills between 08.00 – 10.00 today.
- Oremar guard post at the border to Avashin shelled surrounding areas between 10.00 – 12.00 today.